[Marxism] The real aim of Lenin's "Development of capitalism in Russia"

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Wed Jan 11 23:14:22 MST 2006

Louis Proyect wrote:  

> Kautsky, Lenin and others saw socialist revolution on the
> agenda 
> in industrialized Germany, Great Britain and France. But for
> semifeudal Russia, it was necessary to create the bourgeois-democratic
> foundations for future socialist bids for power.
> This is clearest in Lenin's 1899 "Development of Capitalism in Russia"
> which is simultaneously a study of agrarian class relations and an
> extended polemic against the Narodniks. If you look at the chapter
> "The "Mission" of Capitalism"
>  (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1899/dcr8viii/viii8vi.ht
>  m),
> you will be struck by Lenin's insistence that capitalism was a stage
> that Russia would be forced to undergo for a historical period.

Although this has little to do with the ongoing debate (whether Lenin 
was "stagist" or not in 1905, as oppossed to Trotsky who had 
"already" devised the "permanent revolution" thesis), I would like to 
point out that the central point in the whole "Development of 
capitalism in Russia" was the struggle against the agrarian 
utopianism of the Narodniki, who would still believe in 1899 that in 
spite of full-blown introduction of capitalism in Russia there could 
be some way to create socialism out of the institutions of the old 
Russian agrarian commune.

Lenin argued forcefully against this ilussion, and in this sense he 
may look more stagist than he actually was.  He wanted to stress and 
establish as an undisputable truth that the Russian commune was 
already something of the past, never to return before a socialist 
revolution took it to the fore in some future day.

The core of that cumbersome and amazingly detailed accumulation of 
raw data showing the multiple ways in which Russian economy was 
becoming capitalist lies in Lenin's discussion on the role of foreign 
capital in the development of capitalism in Russia. 

The Narodniki believed that Russia was unable to raise its own 
capital through enlargement of the domestic market, etc, and thus 
would need to skip the capitalist hell if it wanted to raise itself 
into a Tsardom-less future (some, as we know, would believe that it 
was enough to turn the country literally Tsar-less through murder). 

Lenin made an enormous (and in my own view succesful) effort to show  
that under certain conditions a capitalist formation was perfectly 
able to generate the capital it needed for future enlargment of 
production, etc, and thus would not need foreign trade _for that 
purpose_.  He even stated that this discovery was the single most 
important contribution of _Capital_ to the development of science.

Thus, Lenin was laying the solid ground on which to build a new 
conception of the national question, not just one for the countries 
that had already solved it but, departing from a basic theoretic 
point raised by Marx as well as from the historic experience of those 
very countries, one for those parts of the globe that _had to solve 
it in the future_.  

In the struggle to demonstrate that Russia would _of necessity_ be 
fully capitalist once the seeds had been planted, against those who 
still hoped to sideloop the miseries of the reign of the merchant, 
Lenin began to lay the economic-theoretic bricks of his future theory 
of imperialism _as well as of Trotsky's theses on unequal and 
combined development_ and _permanent revolution in a semicolonial or 
colonial country_.

This is a paradox, maybe, that the most "stagist" book by Lenin would 
be also understood as a forerunner of the April theses and of the 
agreement between Lenin and Trotsky in 1905.  But it is simply a 
consequence of Russia being at those times both a semicolonial domain 
of the  great Western European nations and a multinational Empire 
where a dominant nationality exploited the remaining ones, with goals 
of its own as regards global politics.  Trotsky and Lenin marched 
along related paths, sometimes clashing between them but in a sense 
asymptotical because both were trying to revolutionize the same 
social formation and were thus forced to grapple with similar issues.

Este correo lo ha enviado
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
[No necesariamente es su autor]
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"La patria tiene que ser la dignidad arriba y el regocijo abajo".
Aparicio Saravia
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